Sunday, June 28, 2009

Snobject: Knoll Children's Womb Chair

Yes, please! In much the same way that dollhouse designer furniture is irresistible, the Knoll kids line offers much to covet.
Created for the ones we love, knoll kids™ is a collection of spirited, modern furniture scaled for a younger generation. Each piece reflects our belief in the utility of modern design and commitment to quality.
It's like crack for those of us who love modern design. Luckily, I have the sense to realize if I can't afford my *own* Knoll furniture, I can't afford it for my kids either. They'll have to settle for IKEA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Verdict: IKEA's Solig lantern is...

For only $2.99, this LED lamp from IKEA offers just enough soft light to wipe poop in the dark. That's awesome. Plus, it's $2.99. It takes 2 AAA batteries which install easily through a hatch in the bottom. The switch is a standard component, with no extra window dressing - just a tiny black nub on the underside...which isn't so easy to find by feel in the dark.

The lamp is a quick, cheap fix for mobile low-lighting. However, we've found the battery life to be much less than the advertised 60 hours. Any product that seems to eat batteries gets knocked down a bit in the rating - granted, a more energy efficient LED bulb would've resulted in a more expensive product.

Oh, yeah, and I guess you can use them as they're originally intended, for outdoor lantern lighting. The Verdict:
To get an Excellent Verdict, IKEA's Solig needs longer battery life and more intuitive interface balanced with the low cost.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three Ideas that are Better Than this One

New Babyglow garments change color with your baby's temperature, and they've snagged an $18.5M contract for the inventor. At $33/pack of two they'll also snag quite the profit margin if parents buy into this latest paranoia product. This is the Babyglow story:

Mr Ebejer, who had his idea while watching a documentary about babies, began the search for an ink pigment with heat-sensitive molecules.

He spent six years and £700,000 working with scientists to develop-the pigments to embed into cotton babygrows.

The Babyglows come in pink, blue and pastel green, all of which turn white as soon as the baby's temperature rises above 37c/98.6F.

I don't buy it. My boys turn to molten lava when they sleep, at least the part of them sandwiched against the mattress, so they'd be white every night. These outfits basically guarantee you'll be taking your baby's temperature all the time. I'm not thrilled to see yet another product trying to make parents dependent rather than empowering them to trust their instincts. There are products that help, and products that hobble. This is the latter.

Three ideas that could use this functional concept but are much better than this one, because they save you time rather than freak you out:
  1. Bath Water Buddy - help parents know if the bath water is in the right temperature range
  2. Perfect Sip Bottle - confirm that milk you've heated separately is the right temp before baby takes a sip
  3. Safety Spoons - some of these exist, and can warn you if you've nuked the baby food a tad too long

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Reason Homemade is Best

Today Nestle recalled cookie dough products - apparently quite a few people have fallen ill from eating the cookie dough raw - it's contaminated with E coli. There's poop in the cookies, folks. One more reason to bake it yourself. One more reason for me to make products that help you do it, and avoid as much manufactured food product as possible!

Read more about it here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Social Networking Illustrated

I had to pass this on from Core77. It's the perfect illustration of how social networking infrastructures mushroom suddenly, overnight:

And, the music's Santigold, to which I do not object.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Snobject: Williams Sonoma Grill Pan

Got a promo for Williams Sonoma's new Mesh Grill-Top Fry Pan 29.95 and sent one to my brother-in-law to try out on his grill.

The mesh may turn out to be a challenge to clean, but I like the premise. Usually my lucky relatives with grill space, or a yard for that matter, use aluminum foil to create plateaus for grilling smaller items. But that tends to be a pain when you try to scoop them up off of the heated and fragile aluminum surface, especially if you didn't use enough oil. This pan's a pretty neat summer promo idea, let's hope it works!

Click here for more on the WS Mesh Pan Series

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Snobject: Zibra Open-it!

Universal openers are treacherous territory. The have a tendency to become Frankensteins - ridiculous, awkward amalgams of too many functions and parts. The Zibra Open-it keeps its focus and provides a neat bundle of functionality.

The product is right in line with Zibra's product development philosophy - a user centric and solution based process. Discover the experience, Build the experience, Grow the experience, and Enjoy the experience....that's the Zibra mantra. They're not too preachy about it and they've followed through with excellent ID to realize their mission in the marketplace.

I'm curious to find out if they've had success with placement and sell-through. The Open-it! is very Black & Decker in its function and styling, and I wonder if you need that type of brand behind the product to communicate that it's "A Problem Solver." If this were a Black and Decker product every guy would own one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Snobject: A Father's Day Gift...

Humor meets truth for Father's Day. These days the promotions calendar is one endless annual cycle. Well-designed and marketed promotions can improve consumers' lives if they highlight unmet needs when the user is most likely to notice them and seek a solution. I'd rather see well timed and priced promos than kitschy useless throw-aways, but usually its the same old fare with a seasonal image/message stamped on top.

Marketing usually throws promo concepts together independent of design influence - maybe that should change. I'd love to see promotions studied, explored, and created by the real problem solvers in product development. The promo challenge is unique, but that's what makes it fun to solve.

The Difference Between Marketing and Branding...

In case you can't read this, here's the difference between marketing, advertising, PR and branding...

MARKETING: "I'm a great lover."
ADVERTISING: "I'm a great lover." "I'm a great lover." "I'm a great lover."
PR: "Trust me. He's a great lover."
BRANDING: "I understand you're a great lover."

A simply cheeky illustration of these related disciplines.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Kind of Research Should You do?

Most designers believe in the validity of research. They seriously intend to plan and execute said research every time they start a new program, but the effort is often derailed by money, timing, and follow-through.

I came across an excellent summary of research initiatives and applications on Core77 that could help you select the right research effort, so that you at least have a good chance it'll get done. Often you're aiming too high when research programs fall apart. What you need to do depends on the hypothesis you're testing - and less is often more. Overshooting won't really get you better actionable results, just more work and more money down the tubes.

Summary table of research initiatives and app's (though I'm less fond of focus groups for ANY application than this author):